'Bulli Bai’ accused used Sikh names in accounts to create animosity, cops tell court

The Mumbai police's cyber cell submitted its affidavit before the metropolitan magistrate in suburban Bandra opposing the bail pleas filed by the three accused in the case.
Mumbai Police with Gateway of India in the backdrop
Mumbai Police with Gateway of India in the backdrop
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Three students arrested in connection with a case pertaining to the 'Bulli Bai' app, which targeted Muslim women, deceptively used names belonging to the Sikh community for their social media accounts with an intention to breach peace in the society and create animosity among religious groups, the Mumbai police told a local court on Monday, January 17.

The city police's cyber cell submitted its affidavit before the metropolitan magistrate in suburban Bandra opposing the bail pleas filed by the three accused in the case - Vishal Kumar Jha, Shweta Singh and Mayank Rawat. Singh (18) and Rawat (21) were arrested by the Mumbai police's cyber cell from Uttarakhand on January 5, while Jha was nabbed from Bengaluru on January 4. All three are currently in judicial custody with Jha and Rawat quarantined in a BMC-run facility after they tested positive for coronavirus.

The court heard the arguments put forth by the accused's advocates and posted the bail applications for further hearing on Tuesday. The police on Monday sought the court to reject their bail pleas, arguing the accused could flee or tamper with evidence in the case.

The cyber cell added that a police team has been sent to the national capital to seek custody of two more persons Niraj Bishnoi, arrested in another Bulli Bai app case lodged by the Delhi police, and one Omkareshwar Thakur, apprehended in the 'Sulli' deals app case.

According to the police's affidavit, Jha, Singh and Rawat were part of several social media groups operating with a specific mindset.

The accused were highly active on social media and were posting material which could cause breach of peace in the society, it said.

These accused falsely included names and words from the Sikh community in their Twitter handles and also while posting messages through these social media accounts with an intention to create animosity between two religions, the affidavit maintained.

The timely arrest of the accused persons has prevented a law-and-order situation, it said, adding the police were still on the look-out for other accused in the case.

The accused persons have created the Bulli Bai app by impersonating as Sikh group followers and the intention behind this needs to be ascertained through further probe, the police said.

They added that further investigation was required to ascertain if any person was instigating the arrested accused to target women from a particular community. 

Probe is also on to see if there was any monetary gains by the accused for which bank statements (of the arrested accused) have to be looked into, the affidavit said.

Preliminary probe has revealed that apart from the Bulli Bai app, the arrested accused were also active in the 'Sulli' deals app of July 2021 and further probe is required to be done with this regard, the police said. 

The police's affidavit further said that all the three accused Rawat, Singh and Jha - knew Bishnoi, an engineering student, arrested by the Delhi police.

The Delhi police's special cell, which nabbed Bishnoi from Assam, has claimed he was the main creator of the Bulli Bai app.

The four accused were among those who created the Bulli Bai app, the Mumbai police affidavit said.

It added that the three accused are students and have good knowledge of the cyber world.

The accused tried to hide their location history while using their social media accounts by showing that they have logged in from other countries. Their accounts also hide their true identity, the police said.

As per investigation carried out so far, the trio during their custodial interrogation have accepted that the Bulli Bai app was created by Twitter accounts @giyu84, @giyu44 and @giyu94. These three accounts used the GitHub platform to set up the app, the police said.

These three accounts were operated by Bishnoi, police said.

The police told the court that all the three accused were operating multiple social media accounts on Twitter, Instagram and Gmail.

The cyber cell further said that many of the accounts were deleted or suspended for posting defamatory content and information regarding the same is yet to be procured.

The Mumbai police registered an FIR in the case following complaints made by several women, who were targeted by the 'Bulli Bai' app.

The app made public the details of several Muslim women, allowing users to participate in their 'auction'.

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